Sleepwalk: A Novel (Hardcover)
To read a Dan Chaon book is to take a wild ride through his dark, funny and brilliant mind. In his latest novel, Chaon gives us Billy Behr - if that's even his name - a most unlikely anti-hero who despite being a hired assassin (among other dirty jobs) will win you over within the first few pages and keep you laughing throughout the book. Billy lives his life on the road with his only true family, his dog Flip, in a twisted, dark underworld where someone is always watching. When his burner phones start ringing one day he finds out he may have a daughter who seems to know too much about Billy. But Billy's bosses aren't interested in him learning about his past or connecting with his alleged new family and Billy has to decide if making that connection is worth giving up his lifestyle - and possibly his life. Despite taking place in a scary alternate-reality world, Sleepwalk has a lot of heart. I will not soon forget the character of Billy Behr!— Claire
An Indie Next pick for June 2022
Named a Best Book of Spring by Esquire
Named a Best Book of May by The Philadelphia Inquirer
A USA Today "Must Read"
Named one of the "27 Books We Can't Wait to Read This Winter" by Thrillist
A high speed and darkly comic road trip through a near future America with a big hearted mercenary, from beloved and acclaimed novelist Dan Chaon.
Sleepwalk’s hero, Will Bear, is a man with so many aliases that he simply thinks of himself as the Barely Blur. At fifty years old, he’s been living off the grid for over half his life. He’s never had a real job, never paid taxes, never been in a committed relationship. A good-natured henchman with a complicated and lonely past and a passion for LSD microdosing, he spends his time hopscotching across state lines in his beloved camper van, running sometimes shady often dangerous errands for a powerful and ruthless operation he’s never troubled himself to learn too much about. He has lots of connections, but no true ties. His longest relationships are with an old rescue dog that has post-traumatic stress and a childhood friend as deeply entrenched in the underworld as he is, who, lately, he’s less and less sure he can trust.
Out of the blue, one of Will's many burner phones heralds a call from a twenty-year-old woman claiming to be his biological daughter. She says she’s the product of one of his long-ago sperm donations; he’s half certain she’s AI. She needs his help. She’s entrenched in a widespread and nefarious plot involving Will’s employers, and for Will to continue to have any contact with her increasingly fuzzes the line between the people he is working for and the people he’s running from.
With his signature blend of haunting emotional realism and fast-paced intrigue, Dan Chaon populates his fractured America with characters who ring all too true. Gazing both back to the past and forward to an inevitable-enough-seeming future, Sleepwalk examines where we’ve been and where we’re going and the connections that bind us, no matter how far we travel to dodge them or how cleverly we hide.
Advance Praise for Sleepwalk
“Chaon, the visionary author of Await Your Reply and Among the Missing, returns with another standout literary thriller...Sleepwalk is Chaon at the height of his powers.”
“Dan Chaon's latest novel has a plot with intrigue in spades as his latest protagonist abandons life off the grid for a high-octane, country-wide expedition.”
“In prize-worthy prose, Dan Chaon has fathered a protagonist worthy of respect, affection, and loyalty.”
—Washington Independent Review of Books
“There’s plenty of heart and humor in Chaon’s slyly dystopian thriller.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“[A] mind-bending experience...There are surprises on every page of Dan Chaon’s terrific, darkly funny new novel.”
—Akron Beacon Journal
“A fast-paced dystopian thriller and a touching exploration of the power of familial love.”
—BookPage (starred review)
“This strange and compelling plot features Chaon’s signature imaginative flair and brilliant pacing to create an ominous tension infused with sly wit . . . A consummate storyteller, Chaon imbues the darkly comic with colossal heart.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“As ever, Chaon expertly fuses the dystopian nightmares of technology and crime with fascinating characters who cross a hellscape to find each other. This is his best one yet.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“To say this is one of the best novels I’ve read in years is almost not enough. Dan Chaon’s Sleepwalk is a thrilling and often hilarious road trip across America in the very near future, told by a winning and murderous narrator. But beneath the zigzag adventure tale is a poignant reminder of the fragile nature of our humanity, an appreciation of the tricky balancing act of living. It’s a beautiful, unsettling, and thoughtful novel — told by one of America’s great storytellers.”
—Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
“Sleepwalk is an addictive dystopian picaresque, by turns darkly funny, deeply harrowing, and surprisingly poignant. Dan Chaon’s vision of our future will give you chills of dread and recognition.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers
“How to describe this excellent novel? Slapstick of the sinister might capture something of its peculiar, bighearted and epic scope, but Dan Chaon’s books are always hard to sum up. Anyway, I loved it.”
—Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
“Dan Chaon has given us one of the most intriguing, original, and fully-realized characters in recent memory; that he's the center of an absolute page-turner is the icing on the cake. Sleepwalk is riveting, propulsive, chilling, and (no shocker) pure genius.”
—Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers
“Sleepwalk is a deeply satisfying thriller. Though Dan Chaon’s novels are never quite what they seem, this book still surprises—it’s a frightening indictment of corporate power and the surveillance state, as well as a tender story about the depth of parental love. What an absolute marvel.”
—Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
"Dan Chaon's future America may be truly wrecked but it's also familiar and perhaps quintessential. Out of this wreckage Chaon has constructed a gloriously entertaining page-turner of a novel. Bravo!"
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Our Country Friends
“Filled with brilliantly bleak humor, unflinchingly raw emotional insight, and an unforgettable journeyman mercenary, Sleepwalk takes us on a riveting road trip through a county past the point of no return. A marvel in the offing.”
—Ivy Pochoda, author of Wonder Valley
“Dan Chaon just keeps getting better, stranger, and harder to predict. Sleepwalk is an amiable apocalyptic epic, narrated by the sweetest, most charming deadly itinerant mercenary I’ve encountered in fiction, and it never fails to surprise and delight. To every pandemic survivor haunting the earth with their phone at 3 percent, this creepy, weirdly optimistic campfire tale is for you.”
—J. Robert Lennon, author of Subdivision
"Set in troublingly probable future and full of heartbreak, Dan Chaon’s Sleepwalk is nevertheless an achievement of humor, tenderness, and human connection."
—Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek
Past Praise for Dan Chaon
“In his haunting, strikingly original new novel [Ill Will], Chaon takes formidable risks, dismantling his timeline like a film editor.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Chaon is one of America’s best and most dependable writers..."
—Los Angeles Times
“Following writers like Richard Matheson and Shirley Jackson, Dan Chaon writes in the spooky tradition of suburban gothic. . . . [His] writing is cool and precise, but his story is thrillingly unstable."
—The Wall Street Journal
“[Chaon] is the modern day John Cheever.”
—Boston Sunday Globe